Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Chona Wolfstal


Born in 1851 [according to Reyzen's "Lexicon" -- 1853] in Mishmienitze, near Stanislawow, Galicia. His father was a city cantor, a good musician with a great love of music, which he had also planned for his seven sons.

Driven by income concerns, the family settled in Tarnopol, where they organized themselves as the "Wolfstal Band".

W. as a child sand with his brothers in a chorus with his father. Thanks to W.'s compositions, the band, which also toured across British and American courts, was very popular in Galicia, especially over in Tarnopol, where it played yearlong.

Almost an auto-didact in music, W. received a certain musical education, only during his military service as a military musician. In that time, W. composed a series of military marches, valsn in other dance numbers, which were performed for the military orchestras almost across the entire Hapsburg world.

In order that his brothers could perform his compositions, W. was forced to send the compositions to foreign composers, and initially when they were rewritten there in a foreign name, were the compositions included in their brother's repertoire.

W. did not have these compositions published, and only several of them rose through the tradition of some orchestras.

The greatest part of them were forgotten, or remain in the name of other composers.

The true source of W.'s talent, however, showed first in Yiddish theatre. As the orchestra conductor of Yakov Ber Gimpel's troupe in Lemberg, W. wrote compositios for the operettas "Der tayvl als reter" by Moshe Schorr, "R' Yehuda HaLevi", "Bat yerushalayim" and "Bustnay" by Yitzhak Auerbach, "Der komisher bal" and "Di melukhah shba". These operettas had, the majority of them due to W.'s music, were kept yearlong in the repertoire of Yiddish theatre in Eastern and Western Europe.

W.'s operetta "Di dray matonus (The Three Gifts)" (dramatized by Ber Hart, according to Peretz's popular history with the same name).

"Musical oyfgefast as classical operettas after the example of Johann Strauss and scribe, these works with his symphonic overtures, their horns and entirely constructed finales, the treasured melodies and the Yiddish tone, had.W. ..[Reyzen's 'Lexicon']."


M. E. from Jacob Mestel and Sh. E. from Adolf Gertner.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 910-13.

  • Dov Zavadzky -- Chona volfstal, "Tagblat", Lemberg, 15 March 1924.

  • B. Tsegrovski -- Der idisher folks-kompozitor chona volfstal geshtorbn, "Haynt", Warsaw, 25 Decembr 1924.

  • Sholem Perlmutter -- Chona volfstal der shefer fun der idhser operete, "Der tog", New York, 21 January 1925.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 654.

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